Thank you for your interest in learning a little more about me. Below, find some of the often-asked questions and answers.
What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
I enjoy writing, coaching, speaking, traveling, working and meeting with festival and event organizers as well as those who work with events, e.g., sponsors, volunteers, destinations, suppliers of products and services, and agencies who offer grants to support events.
- I like to take things that appear to be in disarray and create order.
- I like to help build communication systems.
- I like to help take a thought or an idea and develop the infrastructure and timetable to make it a reality.
- I like to help make a great event even better.
Because of my background in tourism, I take great pleasure in showing an event how it can positively impact the local economy by filling hotel rooms and restaurants. I like finding ways to grow an event’s reputation to the next level, be it to a regional or national level and beyond and in finding ways to assure the event is recognized as “the” cultural icon of the community. It’s extremely rewarding to watch an event transition from begging for sponsors and volunteers to having them standing in line and to hear that artists and vendors are evangelists for the event.
What kind of work did you do before you got into this?
I’ve always loved gymnastics. My very first work-permit job was assisting a gymnastics coach on Saturdays. It was quite an honor. I would spot students – assist them if needed when they were practicing a back handspring or aerial cartwheel – and also catch any incorrect movements like a bad landing, improper placement of hands, an arched back, out of alignment, etc.
When I went to work for my dad during high school, he told me to greet everyone that walked through the door. Although I was extremely shy, quiet and introverted, I forced myself to do it. Over time I got more comfortable in my own skin. Working in a retail environment opened my eyes to a different world. Genuine customer service was all we knew. You cared and said hello to everyone by name. I quickly realized the difference between character and characters, and the impact of sales and how and where merchandise is displayed. My father was outgoing and the consummate salesman. He had a gift of gab; by the time he finished speaking with a customer, he closed with, “When would you like me to deliver that?” I learned a lot from him about business.
Dad wanted me to know that even though I was his daughter, I wasn’t guarantee employment. I still carry his words, “You can be replaced,” with me wherever I go. I worked at the store until I graduated from college and headed to Florida.
Sailing Hobie Cats is my favorite pastime and, unfortunately, I don’t get to do it much these days. During my last two years of college, I volunteered each summer weekend at a sailboat rental facility at the lake just to get a chance to sail. I loved teaching people Bernoulli’s Principle and how it applied to sailing. The joy on someone’s face when grasping how to use the wind to tack and jibe is indescribable.
I have two favorite sailing memories: being able to make my Hobie dance on the lake with one hull up in the air when the winds were optimum and being able to bring a Hobie into the crowded marina with a headwind and go back and forth repeatedly in a z-shaped motion in a small space to reach the far end.
My scariest freshwater experience was sailing with a group of people I didn’t know well on a very dark night on a long flat sailboat, an E-Scow, and having the captain intentionally jump off the boat. After figuring out how to turn the boat around, retrieve him and return to shore, I’ve never sailed again with people I don’t know.
How did you enter the field of helping festival and event organizers create exceptional events?
I grew up in a very German area of Southern Illinois outside of St. Louis where every town has its own festival or homecoming and every church has its own picnic. I’ve always associated festivals and events with a fun time with food, drinks, entertainment and a chance to visit with old friends. Growing up, I didn’t realize these were fundraisers.
As part of my first job in my chosen field, one of the responsibilities was to produce the largest free jazz festival in the Southeast U.S. It has evolved since then.
What does your company do and what is it called?
Growing up in a family business, I’m naturally wired to be a self-starter. My very first business provided public relations and marketing services to the travel and tourism industry. My husband and I merged our respective businesses under a new name. With the advent of the Internet and website development, we adopted a more suitable name and Flying Compass was born. The focus of each of my businesses has been creative marketing and design services for destinations – the travel and tourism industry.
As a side project, we developed a travel website as I love to explore new destinations, write and take photos.
Part of what I have always done is coordinated events and activities for our clients. As an event planner, I’ve enjoyed observing other events – some wonderfully orchestrated and others that with a little fine-tuning could be even better. Writing my books was a natural extension and has allowed me to help many other festival and event organizers.
What do you think separates exceptional festival and event planners from all the others?
Typically, they are the events that are organized by a collective “we” effort and not driven by an “I” person or someone who believes he or she knows it all. I find the “we” events ask for feedback from their guests, talent, sponsors, volunteers and vendors. However, those that ask but don’t do anything with the feedback aren’t usually going to become better. Exceptional events are always looking for ways to improve. Those event organizers welcome other perspectives.
The old saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know” also comes into play. Some festivals are so entrenched in operations that they can’t stand back far enough to take an unbiased view. When events are focused on leadership issues or poor group dynamics, it’s difficult to focus on making the event better. I can help address those issues in order to move the event forward.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Taking a Sunday drive and exploring historic sites, parks, attractions and nature were imprinted on me by my parents. It’s a strange weekend if we’re not out tooling down the Blue Ridge Parkway, hiking, taking photos, looking at waterfalls or discovering something.
For a number of summers, we have hosted a private, invitation-only Camp Camera event. My husband and niece are absorbed in photography and can carry on for hours about f-stops, bracketing, etc. They are in their element. Just let me point and shoot. If I take time to figure out the technical stuff, I’ve missed the shot. Each day we schedule a different location and “focus” on a different aspect of photography – moving water, people, lighting, etc. – we return to download the results and they go into the digital darkroom.
I have a few close friends and family members and relish being able to spend time with them. Whenever possible, we travel (drive) using ToyotaAir. The seats are comfortable and there’s no extra charge if our bags are over the weight limit.
Watching the entire season of West Wing, Sports Night, Last Man Standing, NCIS or Hart of Dixie over and over and over again is pure heaven.
What are your pet peeves?
- Topping the list are people who drive slow in the left lane while talking on a cell phone. They are completely unaware of how many of us are lined up behind them.
- People frustrate me who don’t read, listen or follow instructions. I’ve been known to reference someone to the document, page number, article name, paragraph and sentence as I my subtle suggestion as to where they should look the next time.
- Cashiers who say silly things like, “Here’s your change” as if you don’t know what it is. Similar to this are cashiers who do not say, “Thank you.”
- Employees who use company time for personal matters – phone calls, texts and social media – not relevant to their job.
- Pet owners who fail to follow the laws pertaining to their pets.
- People who do not value the oldest generation in the room. It’s amazing what you can learn when you stop to listen.
Tell us about your family.
I’m the oldest of five and followed by three brothers. Because my husband is an only child, we enjoy spending time with each of my siblings and their families and have great memories and stories of the times we’ve vacationed together.
I grew up hanging out with the guys, so I know a lot more about guy things like cars and household maintenance. The kitchen is a room, until recent years, I’ve never spent much time. While I can plan festivals and events, planning meals and cooking eludes me … it actually takes me away from doing other things I enjoy more.
My husband and I are both involved with our parents’ daily lives with planned and unexpected activities.
After much thoughtful consideration, we decided to adopt. We now have two, four-legged children who control much of our lives and bring us great joy.
What’s it like to work with your husband?
We complement each other in many ways, and we bring different skill sets and talents to the table. We both can see the big picture as well as the details. We’ve established our own quiet times and know when not to interrupt. We’ve been together so long we often think the same things at the same time.
What are some of the things hardly anyone else knows?
I’m an avid collector of a common household item.
I’ve kept every (paper) letter or note family and friends have ever sent me.
My high school friends and I all had pen names and kept journals. I still have all those spiral binders.
My high school boyfriend broke up with me because I wasn’t fun; we varied on the definition of fun.
Little things I’m working on improving about myself.
- Walking 20 minutes a day.
- Saying no to things that are distractions.
- Staying focused and only answering emails at certain times of the day.
What are some of your favorite places in the world?
My favorite places are Key West, FL, London, England and Washington, D.C.
What are some of the places you’d like to visit?
- Bar Harbor and Portland, ME
- Chicago, IL
- Custer State Park, Custer, SD
- Lake Cuomo, Italy
- Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
- Salt Lake City, UT
- San Diego, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Vancouver, B.C.
- The National Parks in Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming
What are some of the strongest convictions that you hold?
Every action creates an opposite reaction. Probably two of the best examples are tied to when I served on my homeowner association’s board of directors. A hoarder made it impossible for her immediate neighbors to sell their homes and a young female homeowner who became a heroin addict disrupted our entire subdivision one summer. (Both homes have since sold.)
Conversely, every non-action there is a reaction. I see this apply to millennials who aren’t able to do things unless it is part of a group effort or without affirmation. Entire projects are stalled. As a result the entire organization is negatively impacted.
I believe that life is a series of steppingstones on a journey to some yet uncharted event.
As a society, we are creating less and less opportunities to be among people with different backgrounds. We seem to cluster with people who share our own opinions. As such, the world has become more polarized. We are less likely to create situations where healthy discussions allow two sides to be fairly presented and compromises in understanding to be reached.
Now that you’ve learned more about me, how I can help you? Click to learn more about my books.